Writers Guild Garners Sacramento Support in Agency Battle

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Several key legislators signed a letter of support, but no other moves in the capitol are evident, at least yet.

The Writers Guild of America received support from several California legislators, releasing a letter Tuesday in which the leaders of the state senate and assembly labor committees and several other assemblymembers said they “stand in support of the action taken by members of the Writers Guild of America to ensure talent agencies end their conflicted practices and act as proper fiduciaries when representing their clients.”

The May 28 letter was signed by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, and Senator Jerry Hill, chair of the Senate Labor Committee, along with Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez, Kansen Chu, Sydney Kamlager Dove and Wendy Carrillo.

There is no indication whether the letter is intended to presage legislative action. So far, the guild has fought its battle with its feet, by ordering over 7,000 writers to fire their agents; in the courts, by suing WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners over packaging fees; online, via Twitter and via online submission systems that substitute for agents; by emails to members, most recently blasting the “histrionic, biased trade press” for “invidious propaganda”; and at the bargaining table, where it has held firm to demands that agencies end packaging fees and affiliate production.

The parties are set to meet again June 7. Thus far, neither side has gained significant ground in the battle: the WGA has signed one smaller agency, Verve, to its code of conduct prohibiting the practices the guild seeks to ban industry-wide. Meanwhile, some cracks have emerged in guild solidarity, but there’s no indication that the fissures are major, as the agencies hope. Legislative moves, if any were to come, could represent a major new front in the battle.

Read the letter here: